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MOORE V. UNITED STATES, 91 U. S. 270 (1875)

U.S. Supreme Court

Moore v. United States, 91 U.S. 270 (1875)

Moore v. United States

91 U.S. 270


1. Where Congress has not provided, and no special reasons demand, a different rule, the rules of evidence, as found in the common law, ought to govern the action of the Court of Claims.

2. The general rule of the common law, disallowing a comparison of handwriting as proof of signature, has exceptions equally as well settled as the rule itself. One of the exceptions is that if a paper admitted to be in the handwriting of the party, or to have been subscribed by him, is in evidence for some other purpose in the cause, the signature or paper in question may be compared with it by the jury. The Court of Claims determines the facts as well as the law, and may make the comparison in like manner as the jury.

This was a suit to recover the sum of $5,780 on account of cotton seized by the United States.

The court below found that the petitioner, a British subject, owned and was possessed of 26 2/3 bales of cotton stored in a warehouse in St. Joseph's, in the state of Louisiana.

Page 91 U. S. 271

That on the twelfth day of December, 1863, it was seized by the United States, by the boats of their marine brigade under the command of Colonel Ellet, and taken from the possession of the petitioner and sold by the United States, and the net proceeds thereof, amounting to the sum of $5,780, paid into the treasury.

That after said seizure, and while the said cotton was in a boat of the marine brigade, the said petitioner sold the said cotton, as appears by his certificate or paper writing.

That the original of said certificate or paper writing was proved in court by a comparison, made by the judges of the court, of the handwriting and signature of said paper writing with the handwriting and signature of the petitioner in another paper writing in evidence for other purposes in the cause.

The certificate referred to is as follows:

"I certify that the cotton taken by the gunboat Switzerland, twenty-six bales, on the 12th December, was my property, and I sold the same and received payment in full, and that the same is registered at the British consul's office, New Orleans, and, as an act of justice, it should be returned."


"ST. JOSEPH'S, LA., 17th December, 1863"

Judgment was rendered in favor of the defendant, and the petition dismissed.

Page 91 U. S. 273

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